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We Are All Kin: Relating to the Kinship Experience
By Juvenile Law Center, September 23, 2020|
Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow Karissa Phelps published a blog post for Juvenile Law Center in which she examines the value we attribute to our own familial connections, so that we can better empathize with the experiences of kinship caregivers, and therefore craft policies that more effectively support these caregivers.
Something as intimate—and potentially invasive—as creating policies that dictate which familial connections are protected and upheld requires a recognition that we all have family. Whether this includes blood relatives or “chosen family” (both of which are considered “kin”), we all deeply desire familial connection. These relationships validate us and offer us acceptance, support, and belonging. Having this support system of kin is particularly critical when a biological parent becomes unable to care for a child. In this blog, I will examine the value we attribute to our own familial connections, so that we can better empathize with the experiences of kinship caregivers, and therefore craft policies that more effectively support these caregivers.
In Pennsylvania, 103,000 children live with relatives in households where no parent is present. These relatives are considered “kinship caregivers.” Many families find themselves supporting and caring for children due to issues of parental incapacity. Not only is staying with kin better for kids than the alternative of foster care, but there is also deep commitment among families to stick together.